Now is the time to check that all bull calves that are not being kept for either breeding or bull beef are castrated. There are legal and biological reasons for this timely reminder.

Biological reasons

A well grown six-month-old bull calf is quite capable of successfully impregnating a well grown six month old heifer calf. They frequently do, so all bull calves not required for breeding or bull beef production should be castrated.

Legal reasons

Under the Code of Animal Welfare, castration of bull calves without pain relief must be performed when the animals are as young as possible, and not greater than six months of age. When castrating any animal over the age of six months, pain relief in the form of local anaesthetic must be used. Check that both testes are present below the ring before it is released.

Dehorning Calves

Certain cattle breeds will grow horns. Ideally these are removed in young calves by removal of the horn bud before the horn develops using an electric iron. However, often calves are purchased older than this and will already have started to grow horns. At this stage, cutting off the horn will be required.

The Animal Code of Welfare states that local anaesthetic must be used when removing horns from cattle over 9 months of age, although it is recommended that local anaesthetic is used in all cases of de-horning and de-budding. Trials have shown significant increases in weight gain in calves where pain relief has been used.

If you have calves that require their horns removed, contact Franklin Vets for a pain free experience!

Weaned Calves/Older Cattle

Grass quality is important with young cattle and poor quality forage will return negative growth rates. In addition, the animal’s immunity will decline along with its health. We are commonly finding a fatal combination of cooperia resistance and yersiniosis in calves in late autumn. Avoid this by using a combination drench routinely and certainly after the autumn rain.